One of the first questions we get asked by investors is why Africa?
Several really, but the first is that is where we are from. We both grew up and went to school together just outside a little town called Marondera, in Zimbabwe. We get Africa, we understand it and see the huge potential for growth in a young startup willing to tackle one of the many unique challenges that the agricultural sector face in Africa.
Secondly, most of us are aware of the broadly accepted concept that Africa is a food-insecure continent. Post-harvest crop losses for many fresh produce crops can reach and even exceed 40-60%. Why is so much food that farmers have worked so tirelessly to grow being wasted? Most people blame this on poor transport and energy infrastructure. These are undoubtedly contributing factors, yet there is another completely overlooked reason. 65% of land by area is managed by small-scale farmers in Africa, yet a very small proportion of these 33 million small-scale growers engage with commercial markets. The underlying reason for this is that markets have been designed and optimised to work with large-scale producers. Market traders-typically shun small-scale growers because of their inability to delivery consistently on a schedule and with standardised graded quality. However, it is clear that there is enormous market potential for those that are able to engage with this highly significant group of land stewards. We founded Kuronga with the firm belief that if we build solutions that enable small-scale growers to more meaningfully and sustainably interact with markets this will lead to a significant enhancement in global food security whilst also enhancing land use efficiency in African agriculture, helping us feed the next 2 billion without costing the earth.
The third reason is more technical. At Kuronga we are building artificial intelligence powered mobile apps that help farmers access grading expertise to grade their produce at the farm gate. This helps them standardise their production quality and only deliver it to a buyer that will be willing to purchase it from them. Building machine learning models that are capable of doing this requires images, lots of images. Our platform is designed to use images farmers and buyers and buyers upload through simple sales and procurement listings. This helps us collate these images from millions of users. This rich and diverse source of data enables us to build what are termed "highly generalizable" models. These AI models are able to accurately predict quality more reliably because they are trained to this diverse examples. This will allow us to build models superior to those built using training data gathered from fewer data sources such as large scale pack-house facilities.
Are you a farmer wanting to learn how to access different markets by enhancing your on-farm grading capabilities? Sign up now and get listing.
Are you a buyer looking for more reliable suppliers or maybe just looking for an easier way to standardise the grading of your existing suppliers? Sign up now to list your procurement quality requirements and provide your suppliers with grading feedback.
You can also check out our how to guides to learn more about using our platform.